NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A 72-year-old amputee is now homeless, after he says the New York City Housing Authority kicked him out of his apartment while he was recovering from surgery.
“This is NYCHA showing how thoughtless and heartless they are,” Ruben Diaz Jr. declared.
The Bronx Borough President is blasting NYCHA for evicting senior citizen Bienvenido Martinez as he fought to recover from a surgery – which was forced to amputate his leg – at Beth Abraham Rehab Center.
“He’s disabled, he’s a senior, and now he’s homeless.”
Martinez says he owed NYCHA $816 in rent that came due while he was in the hospital and had no one to pay it for him. Even after a call from his case worker at the Bronx rehab facility which explained the situation, NYCHA still chose to kick the 72-year-old into the street.
“This should not have happened to a senior citizen in such dire times… going through health issues who has now lost everything because NYCHA couldn’t take a moment’s pause even after being consulted by the staff at the nursing home,” Diaz explained added.
Martinez says not only did NYCHA kick him out of his apartment at the Union Avenue Houses, they also threw away everything he owned, including his social security card and treasured family photos.
They did not even have the decency to put furniture and belongings in a storage facility, so when the senior got out of the rehab center he could at least put them somewhere else.
Neighbors say they’re shocked at what they call NYCHA’s lack of compassion.
“My mom had her legs amputated as well and to imagine her being thrown out of her apartment is just unbelievable,” neighbor Corrie Tillman told CBS2’s Jessica Moore.
NYCHA claims it believed the apartment was abandoned and followed standard protocol – an explanation that doesn’t account for why the phone call from Martinez’s case worker was seemingly ignored.
It is also unusual to evict anyone in the city for missing a couple months of rent; making NYCHA’s actions even more shocking under the circumstances. In a statement sent by NYCHA Thursday night, the highly criticized housing agency said they were “unable to comment on individual residents’ lease agreements however, we will work with the resident to restore his tenancy.”
Martinez is currently living at Beth Abraham Rehab Center, waiting on word from NYCHA about his future.
For more on the growing list of problems and scandals rocking the embattled city housing agency, click here.